Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chi Ba

Chi (pronounced "chur") means "eat" in Chinese, and ba gets added to verbs as a suggestion or clarification.  Put them together and you get chi ba -- "Let's eat!" or "Shall we eat?"  And in this post, yes we shall.

When my family was here in Qufu, one of my students' parents invited us to join them for traditional tea and supper at their home.  I suggested our last free evening, a Tuesday, and unbeknownst to me both the mother (a professor) and the daughter (my student) cancelled their evening classes to host us.  This was just a foretaste of the outrageous lengths they went to to welcome my family. 

First, the tea.  We tried two different kinds, and my student served us using the white China tea set on the bottom left.  Look how tiny the tea-cups are -- just enough for a swallow!  Also, note the zillions of snacks, ranging from nuts caked with white sugar (because Americans like sweets) to some rather stringy dried chicken and fish.

Pre-game show: My mom and I down some snacks and tea.
Then there was the meal itself, which, as you can see, was none too small.  This picture was taken toward the end of the meal, although the only way I know this is by seeing the soup on the table, which they served last.  Otherwise, there was so much food it looks like we ate nothing.

Dad busts out his chopstick skillz on a rib, Mom picks at a salty duck egg, and I gnaw on a raw green onion.
I really like homestyle Chinese food, and our hostess was a great cook.  My favorite dish was the ribs.  We also had some roasted cicadas to keep things interesting:

Instructions for eating: Just eat it.  This one took me two bites.

Num num num.  (Crunch crunch crunch.)
Midway through the meal, the father came in with his colleague, and they plopped down for a flurry of toasts and the sharing of a raw salted crab.  They didn't stay long, but long enough to drink a little (a lot?) and encourage my dad to do the same.  We got lucky that my student stepped in and insisted we didn't really come to drink.  No one in my family really smokes either, but that didn't discourage my student's dad from offering my dad two cartons of cigarettes to take home to his smoking friends, which I'm pretty sure he doesn't have.

All in all, we got our fill of food and hospitality, and a fun memory of our Qufu time together.


  1. haha. this made me laugh. :-)

  2. I'm so proud of Mom! :) (Sorry, the novelty of you eating weird things has worn off...but I guess I'm proud of you too)

  3. Love this post and the one about your students describing your parents! Glad they had a good visit! And I'm impressed with the roasted cicadas and whatever your mom has in her chopsticks -- don't think I could handle that!